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Expedition Day 4 Finale: I Now Call the Chesapeake My Home…Do You?

2010 September 13

By Peter Fargo

This is a great moment, I thought, as I joined 30 other voices in a glorious cheer: “Save the Bay!”

We had just finished running a half marathon to Point Lookout, MD. It was last leg of our triathlon journey of over 100 miles from DC to the Chesapeake Bay. After it all, we stood there on the beach where the Potomac meets the Chesapeake, beaming with accomplishment for the flash of our final team photo. Along the way, we experienced first-hand the environmental challenges and opportunities of this watershed.

finish1

In our kayaks, we explored the wetland ecosystem of Piscataway Creek where we saw bald eagles and osprey. Unfortunately, when we reached the Potomac, we had to paddle through the smelly product of over-fertilization and sewer overflows. (Hint: There is more than algae floating on the surface of the Potomac River.) On the same day, at the Accokeek Foundation, we learned the benefits of sustainable farming and saw how “rain barrels” and “green roofs” enable us to capture and use rainwater instead of letting it overwhelm our sewer system.

Half-marathonOn our bikes, we passed Amish families in horse-drawn carriages as we rolled through southern Maryland’s picturesque farm country. We also struggled with heavy suburban traffic as our route traversed busy roads and towns. The president of the Mattawoman (Creek) Watershed Society explained that suburban sprawl threatens the watershed, yet smart growth can protect the environment and promote economic development.

Before our run to Point Lookout, we visited St. Mary’s College and enjoyed an outdoor course in the ecology and history of the St. Mary’s River with Prof. Robert Paul. We witnessed an oyster-bed restoration project led by the St. Mary’s River Watershed Association.

_2All of these experiences gave us plenty to think about during our 13-mile run to the Bay. It was a hot day, so it’s no surprise that we celebrated our Expedition victory by diving in!

Somehow, even at the height of the algae season, the yellowish-brown water felt cleaner that day—especially after our months of hard work. As volunteers, we organized an Earth Day exhibit, river clean-up projects, and discussions with Bay experts. To expand the conversation on environmentalism, we found multiple ways to engage the public, including face-to-face listening sessions, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Greenversations blog posts such as this one.

And this was just supposed to be a pilot project! It started with an idea that I helped develop: What if we combined leadership development, experiential learning, and multi-media communications with a cause-driven expedition? Thanks to the collective energy and expertise of EPA’s Emerging Leaders Network and Georgetown University Outdoor Education staff, this idea transformed into more than we could have imagined. We all helped to create something extraordinary this year that I hope will continue to grow in the future.

Hands-and-Faces.1With this Expedition, I can identify more than ever with the people and places of my Potomac and Chesapeake watersheds. Even though I grew up in the West, I can say without hesitation, this is my home too. This is my environment.

About the author: Peter Fargo serves as the special assistant to the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. He graduated from Georgetown University where he was (and still is) involved in their Outdoor Education program. Peter can’t wait for the next expedition!

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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12 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    September 13, 2010

    Human Resources Development…. If we compare it, The Developing Countries must be feel that they are poor it and maybe also Natural Resources. Congratulations to Peter cs. who finalizing their amazing expedition and you are showing to us good idea will be produce “Iron Group” and added to be “Iron State” ; it’s you are Americans….!!!!

  2. Moira permalink
    September 13, 2010

    Wow, Pete! Great blog post–well written and full of informative links, too. I’m excited to check out the Accoceek Foundation and the other resources you mentioned, too. I look forward to seeing what you have planned for next year’s expedition.

  3. Peter Fargo permalink
    September 13, 2010

    “People are our business, and our business is people.” I think this phrase applies to EPA as well as it does to any organization. Our mission is to protect human health and the environment — essentially, our human and natural resources. How do we do it? By building leaders at all levels of the Agency and actively partnering with other organizations at all levels of governance and business. Thanks for the vote of confidence! I’m glad to hear that our Expedition is already serving as a useful model.

  4. Ameet permalink
    September 13, 2010

    Nice blog entry. Not my circle of competence in terms of what could
    work, but from an economics viewpoint, I wonder what set of incentives
    appealing to people’s short term and long term interests could work to
    reduce pollution in the bay and other watersheds. Since appealing to
    people’s self interest is probably what will do the trick (and probably
    it would be a combination of positive and negative incentives).

    For example, one point to note is the comment on suburban sprawl. Why do people want to move to areas near the watershed that threaten it? Or to phrase it in a different way, what is driving them to choose those areas over others? Cost of living? Better commute despite traffic? Knowing what drives that behavior would help in designing incentives to both protect the watershed and meet the needs of people who are considering living in the area.

  5. Nicky Michelle permalink
    September 14, 2010

    As I got into this article on Greenversation, I felt the excitement and its intensity for the cause to experience our natural habitat in rare form. This was positive expression from the hearts and minds of unknowingly individuals combining knowledge with experience. O.k. now take a good bath and keep up the dirty work.

  6. Maria permalink
    September 14, 2010

    Wow, Pete! Great article! Thank you for sharing about your experience and the insight you gained. It sounds like an amazing experience.

  7. Tina Chen permalink
    September 14, 2010

    Another great source of information on the Chesapeake Bay and progress of state and local activities, please visit ChesepakeStat: http://stat.chesapeakebay.net/

  8. David Beaudreau permalink
    September 15, 2010

    Pete!

    Strong work! I’m glad you got to experience the Bay first hand like this. I’m hoping that the efforts there will translate into cleanup in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin.

  9. Paul permalink
    September 17, 2010

    Looks like a great first adventure. I didn’t realize how polluted the
    bay actually is.

  10. Eva Pogorzelski permalink
    September 24, 2010

    I absolutely believe your doing a wonderful thing by trying to cleaning up the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin. I also enjoy cleaning up in my area Yardley Pa. I try and get family, friends also the public to help make a difference. Amazingly world of differences. Keep going…!

  11. Andrei permalink
    November 17, 2010

    This is a very attractive segment, gave me a lot of help, thank you for sharing, hope you can update more and better stories.

  12. Anthony Hunter permalink
    December 11, 2010

    Thanks for the great post. I will tell my friends about your page. Thanks again…

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